Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I try not to make this blog something it is not, like a political forum for example. I am not going to talk about politics per say. This is about a boy growing up in the 50's and 60's and being part of what happened yesterday. 
My Dad was from Kentucky, he left just before WW II and moved to Montana. He spent a summer there and then joined the Army. He ended up fighting his way across Europe, being in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge. He survived. He told me a few days before he died that in the darkest moments of the War he told himself he would go home, get married and have three boys (I have two brothers). He told me he would raise these boys to be free of prejudice, though my mom may have had more to do with this than him, he did all of that.
After the War he became a long distance truck driver. He moved house hold goods. I was able to travel with him during the summers. It seemed that when it was my turn we headed south, "The Deep South". Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, Texas. These are the places I saw in the early to mid 60's. 
I was living in California at the time. My schools were all brand new and 99% white. The neighborhoods were new. Most of us had Dad's who were veterans. California had the best home loans for vets. I think my parents payed $79 down and $79 a month. 
Even though we lived in a world of white we learned in school and at home that everyone was the same, and never to judge or treat someone different just because of the color of their skin.
In the deep South it wasn't like that. They had white only signs everywhere. I was outraged. I was 13 and I was telling my Dad that we shouldn't eat, or buy anything at places like that. He pointed out to me that it was like that everywhere. He was right, but I was still outraged. I felt betrayed by my country. I had learned in school that were all created equal. I learned that we fought a civil war to end slavery. Yet in the 60's the South was a affront to everything I had learned and believed in. 
I was in Yosemite National Park the day Martin Luther King was assassinated. I was camping with my little brother, Dave. The news spread through the campground mouth to mouth. I am not sure how long it took me to get over that. How could I be living in this country where something like that could happen. 
I love the United States. I love the things we do here, what we stand for, and what we can become. After yesterday I am proud of the United States also. I am proud to be an American.  We have a lot to be thankful for. We have come a long way from those summer days I spent in the south. I am no longer outraged, I am just proud. 
Thanks for listening. 
Don Leet

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